Cell (Dragon Ball)

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Dragon Ball character
Cell lithograph.png
Cell's three forms as seen in the anime; Imperfect (left), Semi-Perfect (right) and Perfect (middle).
First appearance Dragon Ball chapter #361: "The Mysterious Monster, Finally Appears!!" (1992)
Created by Akira Toriyama
Voiced by Japanese
Norio Wakamoto[1][2]
Dameon Clarke (Funimation)[3]
Dale Wilson (Ocean)[4]
Travis Willingham (video games)
Species Artificial life form
Relatives Doctor Gero (creator)
Cell Juniors (offspring)

Cell (Japanese: セル Hepburn: Seru?) is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. He makes his debut in chapter #361 The Mysterious Monster, Finally Appears!! (謎の怪物、ついに出現!! Nazo no Kaibutsu, Tsui ni Shutsugen!!?), first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on February 18, 1992.[5] Cell is an evil artificial life form, created using cells from several of the main characters in the series, that travels back in time so he can become the perfect being. In order to reach this goal, he must absorb Androids #17 and #18.

Creation and conception[edit]

After Kazuhiko Torishima, Toriyama's former editor during Dr. Slump and early Dragon Ball, expressed dissatisfaction with first Androids #19 and #20 and later Androids #17 and #18 as villains, Toriyama created Cell.[6][7] Toriyama has expressed some kind of regret regarding the design of Cell, calling it tedious to draw all the little spots on his body.[7] In addition, he did not initially plan for the character to be able to transform, but gave him this ability after his then-current editor Yū Kondō described Cell as "ugly."[6]

Cell originally evolves from a cicada-like form into his Imperfect Cell (不完全体セル Fukanzentai Seru?) form, which is still insect-like in appearance. Both his first form and his second Semi-Perfect Cell (半完全体セル Hankanzentai Seru?) form have a long tail that ends in a stinger-like appendage and allows it to absorb other organisms. The tail recedes under his wings in his final Perfect Cell (完全体セル Kanzentai Seru?) form, although he then uses it to spawn Cell Juniors (セルジュニア Seru Junia?), minuscule childlike versions of himself.


Dragon Ball[edit]

Cell is an artificial life form created by Doctor Gero's computer from cells of different warriors, possessing the genetic information of Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Freeza and King Cold, in an underground complex below Gero's secret research laboratory. Cell is designed to evolve into the perfect being by absorbing two of Gero's previous creations, Androids #17 and #18. But in the alternate future he is from, the two Androids were deactivated. After he kills the Trunks from his time, Cell regresses into an egg while using Trunks' time machine to travel back four years before the Androids appeared, taking him to the present timeline.[8]

After hatching and metamorphosing into an insect-like humanoid, Cell kills off various people and absorbs them to increase his power in preparation to absorb the Androids.[9] After he manages to absorb the energy of entire cities of people, Cell defeats Piccolo before he finds and absorbs Android #17 to evolve into a large and more human-like form. However, Cell quickly gets beaten by Vegeta. But after convincing Vegeta to let him absorb Android #18, Cell assumes a more human-like and intelligent form. After quickly defeating Vegeta, Cell fights Trunks and defeats him as well.

Wanting to test his abilities and enjoying the fear he causes in others, Cell decides to hold his own fighting tournament known as the Cell Games (セルゲーム Seru Gēmu?) to find a worthy opponent to face him intending to destroy Earth when he wins. In the first round, he fights Goku. Although Goku puts up a decent struggle, he quits upon realizing Cell is stronger than him. Goku then nominates his son Gohan as Cell's next opponent to everyone's surprise. Though Gohan puts up a good fight, Cell takes the upper hand quickly due to Gohan's general dislike of hurting others, no matter how evil they are. Gohan warns Cell that if he is pushed too far, he will lose control of his power and likely kill him with no remorse, but Cell decides to make Gohan angry by shattering Android #16 to pieces and sending a group of Cell Juniors after the rest of the fighters. Gohan's rage begins to swell, and when Cell mercilessly crushes Android #16's head, Gohan transforms into Super Saiyan 2 and overwhelms the Cell Juniors and Cell himself who ultimately takes so much damage that he regurgitates Android #18 and reverts to his previous form. In desperation, Cell tries to self-destruct and destroy the Earth, but Goku sacrifices himself to ensure that Cell detonates elsewhere. Cell, however, returns in his final form after realizing that the genetics of Saiyans and Namekians have made him nearly immortal with the ability to reach further perfection as he tries to destroy the world and find stronger opponents elsewhere in the universe. Luckily, Gohan, with Goku aiding in spirit, manages to destroy Cell once and for all after a climactic Kamehameha struggle.

Once Trunks returns to his future timeline and destroys Androids #17 and #18, he is confronted by the Cell of his timeline, planning to kill Trunks and steal his time machine to travel to a time when the androids still exist. Trunks quickly becomes a Super Saiyan and effortlessly defeats Cell, ending his reign of terror for good and finally bringing peace to his future.

In later filler episodes of the anime, Cell makes numerous cameo appearances, usually as comic relief. In these appearances, he is shown causing trouble in Hell along with Freeza, King Cold and the Ginyu Force. He is defeated by Goku and Pikkon and sent to prison, and is later seen watching Goku's battle with Majin Boo on a crystal ball, openly wondering why Goku quit against him and then went on to fight Boo, whom he acknowledges to be a stronger opponent than himself.

In other media[edit]

Norio Wakamoto has been Cell's Japanese voice actor in every single piece of Dragon Ball media.

In Dragon Ball GT, after Goku is sent to Hell by accident, he confronts both Cell and Freeza, whose bodies have been rendered temporarily immortal due to the upset in the balance between the two worlds. Though Cell and Freeza trap Goku with their new joint attack and render him frozen by a witch living below, they too are frozen after foolishly venturing down to gloat at him, and due to being dead, they are unable to thaw out like Goku did. Goku accidentally breaks the ice Cell and Freeza are trapped within to pieces, implying that Cell and Freeza have been erased from existence. However, in a future scene, Freeza and Cell are seen being taken away in a jail cell with tape over their mouths.

Cell appears in a number of video games as a boss and playable character, most notably the Budokai, Budokai Tenkaichi and Raging Blast series. He is also a playable character in the Dragon Ball Z: Collectible Card Game. He also appears in a TV ad for Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, questioning why he is not in the film while Freeza brags that he is, Cell then remarks that Freeza only has a non-speaking appearance.[10]

Cell's final form is playable in Dragon Ball: Xenoverse while his first makes a brief appearance during the story mode. During the story mode, Cell fights the player and Gohan in the main timeline and the player and Trunks in the alternate timeline.


D. F. Smith of IGN criticized Cell's decision to hold a fighting tournament instead of destroying Earth as a sign of the author having run out of ideas.[11] Dennis Amith of J!-ENT described Cell as "the toughest enemy that the team has fought yet" and liked how the efforts of the other characters trying to stop Cell is the main focus of that part of the series.[12] J. Steiff and T. D. Tamplin used Cell as an example of the concept of "leveling up" in anime and believed Cell follows this concept well.[13]


  1. ^ Norio Wakamoto Behind The Voice Actors
  2. ^ Chance, N. (2011). Who Was Who on TV, Band 1. Xlibris Corporation. p. 395. ISBN 978-1-4568-2128-9. 
  3. ^ Dameon Clarke Behind The Voice Actors
  4. ^ Dale Wilson Behind The Voice Actors
  5. ^ Weekly Shōnen Jump #10 February 18, 1992
  6. ^ a b "Shenlong Times 2". DRAGON BALL 大全集 2: STORY GUIDE (in Japanese) (Shueisha): 6. 1995. 
  7. ^ a b DRAGON BALL 大全集 1 COMPLETE ILLUSTRATION. Shueisha. 1995. pp. 206–207. ISBN 4-08-782754-2. 
  8. ^ "The Monster's Riddle is Solved". Weekly Shōnen Jump (Shueisha) (13). March 16, 1992. 
  9. ^ "The Union of God and the Demon King". Weekly Shōnen Jump (Shueisha) (10). February 24, 1992. 
  10. ^ "2013 Dragon Ball Film's TV Ad Has Voice Cameo by Cell". Anime News Network. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  11. ^ Smith, D. F. Dragon Ball Z - Season Six DVD Review Archived at WebCite
  12. ^ Amith, D. Dragon Ball Z - Season Five DVD Review Archived at WebCite
  13. ^ Steiff, J.; Tristan D. Tamplin (2010). "Cell's Game and the Darwinian Model". Anime and philosophy. Popular Culture and Philosophy. Open Court Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8126-9713-1.